Friday, July 15, 2011

Where can I find me a Neville?

So... I saw Harry Potter last night, the last HP showing, the end of my childhood, and the only one I didn't dress up for (I know, I should've). It was fabulous, although it definitely doesn't stand alone as a movie - it felt the whole time like the end of a bigger movie, which of course it is. As always when watching movies I care about, I was a giddy mess, shrieking and clapping and generally living vicariously through each character. You know, people say all kinds of things about Harry Potter, but I will always love those books and movies as much as I did when, at age 10, I read The Sorcerer's Stone and developed a mad crush on Harry. Oh what a blow it was when my owl didn't come on my 11th birthday, as I was so sure it would. To compensate, my best friend Steph and I invented our own American version of Hogwarts - Quillfeather Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry, right in our own hometown of Chicago. We designed uniforms for it, a curriculum, a book list, and invented an entire faculty and staff to run the thing. Then we printed out invitation letters to the school and mailed them to each other. It's been a good ten years since then, but in many ways Rowling's world is still that real to me, and last night's movie brought home its power.

One thing I love about the series is how real the characters are - nearly every character reminds me very much of a type of person I know. Ron is everyone's dude friend who might not always be completely clued-in but who will do the hard jobs and can always be counted on for his loyalty. As for McGonagall, who absolutely shone in this movie, don't we all have that teacher who is sort of proper and a stickler for rules, but you know she's got your back when it counts, and would fight for you too if it came to that? Dumbledore, of course, is the wise elderly mentor that I've been fortunate enough to find in so many holy priests. As for the Malfoys, I can think of families who will let the world and everyone in it go to ruin, as long as their own family is taken care of - the people who blow where the wind wills but have the goodness (or the selfishness) to serve their family at all costs. And finally, there's Neville Longbottom... which brings me to my final point.

Neville in this movie completely stole my heart. First of all, he suddenly got cute. Second, his strength of character and leadership qualities were evident in every scene he was in. The thing about Neville is that he doesn't seem like anything special. He's just an average guy, perhaps even a little more dorky and awkward than most, seemingly nothing special, but when it counts he comes through with the courage of a lion and the tenacity to keep fighting when all seems lost. Only he is brave enough to defy Voldemort to his face in order to rally the dispirited fighters. It is he who leads Dumbledore's Army and keeps the students' hopes alive after Harry, Ron and Hermione leave the school. One brief moment summed up, to me, his quiet heroism - as he leads Harry, Ron and Hermione through the tunnel from Hogsmeade to the Room of Requirement, he shows them the bruises and sores on his face and explains that the new Death Eaters in charge of discipline inflicted them.

"They did that to you??" Harry asks, incredulous.

"Yeah," Neville replies. "In Defense Against the Dark Arts, they wanted us to practice the Crucio curse. On first-years. I wouldn't do it."

From that line one glimpses the whole greatness of Neville's character. I picture him in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom - not making a fuss or causing a scene, just saying "No" and sticking to it, when other people who talk much bigger are afraid to live by their words. Neville is not the man to parade his virtues. Showy gestures of chivalry are not his style. His style is heroism, courage, right conviction and goodness to the core - not set on display but evident beyond a doubt when he is tested. Neville was the true hero of this last movie. Now, here's my question. When you meet a guy, how can you know that he has those kinds of virtues - that even if he keeps quiet and seems dorky, he can be trusted utterly to sacrifice himself again and again, without question or hesitation, for those he loves? Seriously, people, where can I find me a Neville?

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought Neville was one of the best male characters :) He's just so perfect! And he definitely got a lot cuter. ;)

    --Liz B